On momentum

February 3, 2011

A reader wrote me an e-mail earlier this week asking what, exactly, I meant when I wrote that a manuscript should have momentum. That wasn’t a literary term she’d heard before, she said. Was I referring to pacing? Or building tension? Or something entirely different? Which made me think: What exactly did I mean by […]

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Self-editing: 10 ways to tighten your copy

December 13, 2010

Want more tips like these? Check out my free newsletter. The difference between a mediocre writer and an excellent writer often comes down to whether you can tighten your own copy. Eliminating unnecessary words makes every story cleaner, easier to follow and all-around professional. I’ve long enjoyed editing, which is why I’ve edited friends’ chapters, […]

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One way to organize your next revision

December 8, 2010

I’m super excited about revising my manuscript again, and incorporating suggestions from my agent. But unlike my first 86 revisions, this time it’s not the changes that are daunting. This time, it’s finding the time to make those changes. Between my full-time journalism job and my part-time social media business, I no longer have entire […]

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Learning by doing (or the importance of story arc)

October 11, 2010

From the beginning, I've been stubborn about following a model for my story arc. If I wrote a good story, I figured, it would have a natural arc without me obsessing over the “inciting incident” and “crisis” and “resolution.” If all authors stuck to a strict story arc template, I rationalized, books would be boring! […]

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Some things are better left unblogged

June 7, 2010

When I was querying literary agents, I grappled with whether to blog about it. The whole purpose of this blog is to help you learn from my experiences (and to help me grow), and I kinda felt like I was leaving you out in the cold by not sharing exactly what was going on. Several […]

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Why you should reveal embarrassing details in memoir

December 22, 2009

Now that I’m revising my travel memoir, I spend a lot of time looking at scenes and paragraphs that make me uncomfortable and asking myself: should I really include this? That’s because in my first draft, I included everything. I included details that were embarrassing, that I wouldn’t even want my mother to read. I […]

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This is cause for celebration…

November 23, 2009

I finished a draft of my book! That’s right, I’ve written through the entire manuscript. It feels like a huge accomplishment. I’m ready to move onto the next stage: revision. Actually, I’m already well into the revision process. I’ve edited 16 of my 33 chapters. At least one critique partner has read through them, and […]

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Writers' Roundup

June 12, 2009

Pieces of my book are starting to come together. I’m now plugging a few holes in Chapters Seven, Eight and Nine, and should soon be able to read straight through ’em. A few links that helped focus my writer’s mind this week: * A hilarious post on how to be a good local author. Note […]

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